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After world war ii, czechoslovakia, a member of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before WWI and an independent state in the inter-war period, came into the sphere of the Soviet Eastern Block. In 1968, a liberalization effort was stymied by Soviet invasion, leading to political protests and, ultimately, to harsh repression. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the so-called velvet divorce resulted in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia as separate entities. The Czech Republic is a small (30,450 square miles [78,866 square kilometers]) landlocked nation with a varied topography. The country is subject to flooding that is often detrimental to the environment. In July 1997, for instance, in the eastern part of the country, the entire Moravian area was flooded, including ...

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